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When It Comes To Powering Electric Cars Plug-free, It's Convenience Versus Conservation

Why plug when you can park? So asks Evatran, makers of Plugless Power, a pad unveiled this month that beams energy directly into your parked electric car. Just one catch: The pad is only about 90% efficient, meaning some energy gets lost. So which is more important—saving time or saving juice?

Can plugless power make electric cars more attractive?

"Gas cars fill up maybe once a week. With the electric car, you're plugging it in at least once a day, if not multiple times. So you'd think that Plugless Power will encourage the transition." -Rebecca Hough, Evatran CEO

"Convenience is such a minor thing. You're talking about the difference between driving over a pad on the ground and getting out of your car and inserting [a plug] into a slot. It literally takes three seconds." -Paul Scott, Cofounder of electric car advocacy group Plug In America

How much electricity loss should be tolerated for convenience?

"A small drop in efficiency is only a small drop as long as it's promoting an adoption of the technology. When people say, 'Well, I plug in my cell phone every day,' it's not that simple. The car's cords are heavier. And the materials in cords are quite expensive." -Hough

"A 1% loss—ahh, I might be able to let that roll over. But 2% to 5%, that's kind of a lot. Our country is incredibly wasteful, and the vehicles that we buy are grossly inefficient. We've got to stop wasting energy, especially since we're using such dirty energy." -Scott

True or false: The snuggie proves that Americans always prefer convenience.

"I don't know. One of our market studies showed that 90% of users who had an electric car for two weeks said that they were interested in a wireless option. Convenient products tend to be adopted, loved, and likely to proliferate." -Hough

"Snuggie—what is that? [Reporter explains it to him.] Well, see, this is part of why our country is failing. You're watching a great country go down the tubes. Our country is full of lazy, selfish people. That's not a recipe for success, man." -Scott

[Illustration by Mickey Burton]

A version of this article appeared in the April 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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